What I really wanted for dinner was comfort food. Specifically, macaroni and cheese with black-eyed peas and stewed tomatoes. However, since Laura’s still in DC I suppose I need to try another new place. This time I decided to try Pho Noodleville in the Orchard Park shopping center. This was one of the places recommended by John Mallick, so I thought I would give it a shot.
The decor is simple, but stylish. Tables are arranged in straight rows across the small establishment, and can be pushed together for larger groups. The walls are decorated in burgundies and yellows with tasteful art.
The clientele is somewhat unusual. I saw only one three traditional couples throughout the course of the meal. Five unaccompanied males (including myself) dined alone, and there were several groups of women. One of the couples I recognized from our contra dancing days, and another sported tattoos and counter-culture attire.
The menu is daunting, especially for someone not familiar with Vietnamese cuisine. Several dishes at least sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure how their Vietnamese counterparts might be. There was an extensive selection of appetizers, platters, and soups. Prices for entre’s range from $7 to $10, for the most part, with one or two more expensive items.
I ordered spring rolls as an appetizer, and decided upon the signature dish, Pho noodles with chicken. A plate was brought out with bean sprouts, jalapeno slices, and bay leaves. These were for the Pho to be brought out later. The spring rolls soon arrived. These were smallish, deep-fried, and stuffed with pork and vegetables. Flavor was quite good, especially with the accompanying sauce.
Soon the Pho arrived. This was a large bowl filled with broth, thin rice noodles, and pieces of boiled chicken. To this mixture, one can add as much of the vegetable as desired. Hot chili paste and hoisin sauce were also available, along with the jalapenos, to add heat to the mixture. The flavors are quite unique. There is a light flavoring of herbs, to which I added more bay and one slice of jalapeno. As I wrestled with the noodles, attempting to master the chop sticks as my only utensil, I decided it needed a touch more heat. The drops of chili paste I added did liven things up, and soon I had to remove the jalapeno slice as the heat snuck up on me.
There were some language barriers, but otherwise service was friendly and efficient. Once the food was served, it was a bit difficult getting a drink refill, but no serious lapses in service.
Everything was quite enjoyable. I’d like to try several other dishes besides the Pho. I’m sure I will get used to the menu, as I have with other Asian menus.